Roman Road’s fashion credentials have just hit new heights. Not only are we spoilt for choice on Roman Road Market with outlet ranges from Warehouse, French Connection and the likes at bargain bucket prices, but we now have a fashion outlet and haberdashery that offers top designers labels at slashed prices. Just Star is now fully open on Roman Road, stocking men’s and women’s clothing, fabrics and accessories.
After four months of renovations, and two months of being partially open, both floors of Just Star are now complete and ready for business. We spoke to the owner, Semra Atim, about what drew her to the Roman, her history with fabric and spotting silk from a mile off.
Starting up in Bow
Atim knew she wanted to open an outlet boutique, the question was just where. Last August she opened a pop-up in Victoria Park, stocking clothes similar to Just Star’s (new with labels, but not ‘new season’).
‘I loved how there was such a mixture of people around Victoria Park,’ she says. ‘I knew I wanted to be around that area.’ A few months later she came across 419 Roman Road and she could tell it was a good fit. ‘My customers are very supportive of local businesses and towards new ideas. I have really great regulars.’
As well as loving the local high street, Atim’s east London customers are always up for trying new things. ‘In east London, people are open to new, unique styles,’ says Atim, who picks the clothes herself. ‘Poeple’s fashion is not plain, it’s very free. That’s what I like about it.’
Just Star fashion outlet and haberdashery
The clothes in Just Star are brilliantly varied. Some are streaked with turquoise, others are embellished with sequins and others are bulging with ginormous fabric. Atim says she doesn’t have a specific style, but just picks out things that catch her eye – ‘if I like something, I like something’. Most of it, but not all, is designer. Clothes are on average marked down by 70% from their recommended retail price (RRP), and range from around £40 for a t-shirt or £200 for some dresses.
Atim buys pieces for Just Star from suppliers: ‘It might not be new season, but I pick my stock in a way so that it’s very “now”. Some pieces I do buy online,’ she says. ‘I can be cheeky if I know a supplier very well. If you know the brand, you can email them and try and get a specific item.’
But Atim won’t let you in on where she buys her stock. It’s her trade secret. ‘If I tell everyone then they’ll all have the power to do it,’ she says. ‘Every boutique finds it difficult, it’s competitive and it’s about who you know. Companies will send an email saying they want to clear out their warehouse and whether you want it.’ The more contacts you have, the more choice of stock you get.
Her aim is to make the shop feel like more of a relaxed, stylish space, and not an outlet boutique. Every table, hanging rail and shelf in the shop, she made by hand. Atim is also a vegan, so makes sure that all clothes and fabrics from animals are ethically sourced.
And in terms of local? ‘I’m really open to stocking local designers but I haven’t had anyone approaching me. I’m full of mixed brands – so why not.’
East London haberdashery
Atim’s love of clothing can be traced back through her family, who have owned fabric factories and haberdasheries in east London for years. ‘I loved growing up in east London,’ she remembers. ‘Being in Brick Lane with all the designers – it was a genuine design centre and it definitely inspired me. I would look at them and think, I want to be like you, think like you, work like you.’
From the age of 15 Atim was buying clothes from suppliers and selling them online – ‘I was obsessed’. Then, after graduating from a degree in graphic design, she threw herself into fabric design and buying for online boutiques. In the future, she aims to stock her fabrics in the Just Star haberdashery.
Atim is a skilled fabric-merchant, with a sharp eye for clothes. ‘If I’m standing in here behind the till I might be designing something, a print, anything,’ she says. ‘When I touch a fabric, I can tell exactly what mixture it’s got in it. I don’t have to look at the labels. So I’m really fussy with fabrics and the way it feels.’ And now Atim has brought her fabric-vision to Roman Road.
You can find Just Star at 419 Roman Rd, London E3 5QS. It’s open Tuesday-Sunday, between 10am and 6pm.
If you liked this, why not read about another Roman Road boutique, Barüch.